Bain's prints on rifle not in blood, consultant says

A British fingerprint consultant called by the defence said he was unaware the defence in David Bain's trial was that Bain's fingerprints on the murder weapon were in animal blood and had been put there "years before".

Carl Lloyd, a former police fingerprint officer, told the High Court in Christchurch yesterday the prints on the rifle's wooden forestock were not in blood, whether human, animal "or any other type".

He could not say whether Bain's prints were on the rifle when five of the Bain family were shot on June 20, 1994, or earlier. But if the prints were left during the shootings, a struggle would not necessarily have smudged them, Mr Lloyd said.

There was nothing about them to lead him to conclude they were in blood. He believed they were "latent prints", left by the sweat on Bain's fingers when he touched the rifle.

The Crown says the prints were in blood, possibly as a result of a violent struggle between Bain and his 14-year-old brother Stephen before he was shot, but the defence contend they were old prints, left on the rifle while Bain was shooting rabbits or possums in January or February 1994.

Police fingerprints officer Kim Jones gave evidence last month the prints were in blood and of recent origin because of the pressure with which they were applied, that they were not a result of Bain just picking up the rifle from where it lay beside his dead father.

But Mr Lloyd said, while there was no doubt the prints were David Bain's, they were not in blood and were not consistent with having been applied with excessive pressure.

If excess pressure was applied, all that would happen would be that the ridges and furrows comprising the prints would be brought together and that would invariably start to "blank out" the fingerprint, he said.

The prints could have been left simply by Bain picking up the rifle. Not much pressure was needed to leave a latent print, Mr Lloyd told the court.

As to a print from Stephen Bain's middle finger on the rifle's silencer, which Mr Jones said helped him in his conclusion about how recently David Bain's prints were left, Mr Lloyd said he did not see how Mr Jones could say the prints were left at the same time.

There was nothing on which to base such an opinion, as the appearance of the prints was different.

After looking at all the photographs relating to Bain's fingerprints on the rifle, he was led to the belief they had been chemically enhanced and they were not in blood, Mr Lloyd told the court.

Asked by defence counsel Paul Morten about David Bain's palm print on the side of the family washing machine, Mr Lloyd said a chemical test had indicated it was in blood, but a biological test was needed to establish whether it was in fact blood.

It could have resulted from any other substance containing protein, such as a dairy product, being on Bain's hand. And there was no indication of when the print was made.

The Crown case is that the print was in blood and that Bain left it while washing blood-stained clothing after killing his parents and siblings.

Cross-examination of Mr Lloyd has been postponed until next week and will be done through a video link with the UK. That is because the Crown says the defence has made a fundamental change to its case through the fingerprint evidence of Mr Lloyd that the prints were not in blood.

Crown counsel Kieran Raftery asked Mr Lloyd if he was aware that, for years, the defence case had been that the fingerprints on the rifle were in animal blood and that they had been there for a long time.

Mr Lloyd said he was not aware of that. All he had done was look at the fingerprint aspects of the case as requested.

He said he had been contacted by another defence forensic scientist, Oxfordshire-based Dr John Manlove, a specialist in the interpretation of DNA and blood spatter analysis.

Mr Raftery told Justice Graham Panckhurst the Crown needed time to check the fingerprint evidence with its experts and asked that cross-examination be delayed until some time next week.

Dr Manlove completed his evidence in the trial yesterday, confirming his conclusion that blood spatters on a curtain near Robin Bain's body and blood on his track pants and his shoe confirmed he could have committed suicide while standing with his right foot on a chair and his knee bent.

But asked by defence counsel Helen Cull QC about a Crown suggestion that blood marks going in opposite directions on the inner area of the right leg of the track pants could have occurred if Robin had been shot while seated on the floor with his knees bent, Dr Manlove said that scenario was "inconceivable".

The blood staining on the track pants leg could have occurred while Robin was in that position, but the blood spatter on the curtains was too high for that scenario to have been possible. And the three tiny blood spots on the top of Robin Bain's shoe could also not have occurred if Robin was seated on the floor.

• On trial

The trial of David Cullen Bain (37) continued at the High Court in Christchurch yesterday.

Bain denies murdering his father and mother, Robin and Margaret Bain, sisters Arawa and Laniet and younger brother Stephen at the family home in Every St, Dunedin, on June 20, 1994.

The Crown, represented by Kieran Raftery, Cameron Mander and Robin Bates contends Bain murdered the family, using his early morning paper round as an alibi and made it look like Robin shot them before committing suicide.

But the defence, represented by Michael Reed QC, Helen Cull QC, Paul Morten and Matthew Karam, argues Robin was the killer and turned the gun on himself because he was about to be exposed for an incestuous relationship with his younger daughter Laniet.

The trial, before Justice Panckhurst and a jury of seven men and five women, began on March 2. The Crown closed its case on May 6 and the defence began its case on May 8.


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